Friday, January 23, 2009

Showcase Update '09

Another year begins, ripe with the promise of twenty-four brand new thick volumes of black-and-white goodness on cheap paper. That's right, it's time for another update of my wish list for DC's "Showcase Presents" line!

DC's slowed down considerably from their first year, where it seemed like every month had two brand-new series coming out. But that's only to be expected; having released collections of most of their "big guns", they're starting to get deeper into those series' original runs. Two volumes of the Flash, three of Green Lantern, four or five now of starts to cut into the number of new series they can release. (Marvel's in the same boat.)

And looking at last year's list, it kind of shows. Of the fifteen titles I picked for my wishlist, only two (Blackhawks and Doom Patrol) were released or are slated to be released. That's not to say those were the only new series DC put out--did anyone ever expect to see a "Showcase Presents Ambush Bug"? But in terms of their score of catering to my personal wishes, they didn't do so good.

So what are my personal wishes for the coming year?

15. Kamandi. Really, this and the "New Gods" material should have been released in preparation for "Final Crisis" (and probably some "OMAC" stuff as well.) Sure, DC can point to their big, thick Kirby Omnibii and say, "Look, we're putting out our Kirby backlist to help make "Final Crisis" comprehensible," but those things aren't cheap. I'm not made of money, here, DC!

14. Tomahawk. DC's been pretty good about getting their war comics into the line, but their westerns have been far less represented; why not start here, with the frontier adventures back from when everything in the United States counted as "frontier"?

13. The Demon. Another Kirby creation (how he's not featured prominently in "Final Crisis" is downright inexplicable to me), the Demon has tons of material available for collection. Sure, his own original series only ran sixteen issues, but he's had numerous revivals, guest appearances galore--heck, they could toss in his appearances in 'Batman Adventures' if they wanted!

12. New Gods. Again, this is something that should be out already--"Final Crisis" is so dense in Fourth World mythos that it desperately needs supporting material to make it comprehensible. And yet, the only "Fourth World" collections are sixty bucks apiece and need a forklift to get them out of the comics shop. It's a travesty, I tells ya.

11. Superboy. Sometimes, it can be hard picking new series to go up here, especially for someone like me who didn't spend his childhood steeped in DC lore. (I was a total Marvel Zombie as a kid.) Luckily for me, I have a feeling this one is here to stay forever, what with the endless litigation over the rights to the character between DC and the Siegel estate. (Which I have literally no opinion over--it's strictly a business matter between the Siegels, Warner Brothers, and the court system, and with any luck it will be resolved fairly between the two parties.)

10. Sugar and Spike. I was gratified to find out that I'm not the only person who really wants to see DC's classic humor series published; none other than the legendary Chris Sims, of the Invincible Super-Blog, referred to the situation of this book not being in print as "DC hating money".

9. Plastic Man. Or maybe it could just be, "DC hates fun." Plastic Man is pretty much their only signature character who doesn't have a "Showcase Presents" volume--the entire Super Friends pantheon has one, including an actual "Super Friends" collection coming soon, but Plas is left out in the cold. (Hope he doesn't become brittle.)

8. Warlord. They're launching a new "Warlord" series soon, if memory serves me right, so that might mean we actually see this one--DC's been pretty good about marketing synergy like that (although there's always room for improvement.)

7. The Question. I've heard rumors that "The Creeper" is coming soon (all right, I did a search for "showcase presents" on Amazon and it listed it as coming soon.) Point is, if they're doing "The Creeper", can "The Question" be far behind?

6. Blue Beetle. Or for that matter, can "Blue Beetle" be far behind? (Note for non-die-hard comics fans...who I have to imagine are reading this solely out of sheer bloody-mindedness..."The Creeper", "The Question", and "Blue Beetle" were three of Steve Ditko's classic series during the time he worked for Charlton comics. Charlton was later bought out by DC, so they're DC characters now.)

5. Swamp Thing. This had so many A-list creators working on it that half the series has already been collected in color; why not give us a nice, cheap black-and-white version we can lend out, too? (I suspect the answer is, "Because that's a Vertigo series." About which I will say no more right now.)

4. Firestorm. I don't think DC realizes just how popular this volume would be--the original Ronnie Raymond Firestorm is just old enough now to catch a strong wave of nostalgia (and the fact that he was in a couple of seasons of "Super Friends" can't hurt.) The old series could segue into the new series pretty effortlessly, if they needed additional material, and increasing the character's visibility before trying another "Firestorm" relaunch couldn't hurt.

3. Hawk and Dove. It's another classic Ditko series, but more than that, the later run written by Karl and Barbara Kesel is my personal favorite series DC ever published, and it's the series that got me into DC. More than any other item on this list, this is a personal indulgence on my part, but I don't care.

2. Suicide Squad. So after canceling the "Showcase Presents Suicide Squad" volume, and telling everyone that it would be resolicited next year...DC did not, in fact, resolicit it. It's the lies that really hurt, DC. You can make it up to me by putting this collection of 80s awesomeness out this year, though.

1. MAD Magazine. People have pointed out to me that you can get a CD-ROM collection of every MAD Magazine issue, but if I've managed to get one thing across with these yearly lists, I hope it's that I still prefer old-school, hard-copy, ink-on-paper editions of these classic stories. You can't toss a CD-ROM in your bookbag and read it when you're in line at the bank, you can't grab it off the shelf on your way to the bathroom when you're just looking for something to while away a minute or two, and you certainly feel a lot worse if you drop it in the tub by accident. I'd like all of MAD, from the beginning, in a convenient and affordable format. Because I love it.


Caine said...

I think you're right on the money with FIRESTORM and HAWK & DOVE - Oh, and I'm glad you've reformed from the marvel zombie curse

Paul C said...

Can I second the love going out to Firestorm and Hawk&Dove, but especially Firestorm. More than that, though:

SUICIDE SQUAD. The most criminally under-rated series that DC has ever produced. Great comics, but also a far greater impact on the DC universe than anybody is prepared to admit.

John Ostrander. Genius. Showcase. Now.

Greg McElhatton said...

Fourth World omnibuses are just $50, not $60. :) And they're just gorgeous, I might add.

Michael Hoskin said...

Uh, the Creeper wasn't a Charlton title. But he was a 60s Ditko creation so I can kind of see the confusion.

John Seavey said...

D'oh! My apologies, Michael (and all other Ditko fans) for the error. Thanks for correcting it.

And I know they're gorgeous, Greg; DC puts out some mighty fine books. (I've got a few of their 'Absolute Editions', which are jaw-droppingly gorgeous.) But my point about "sometimes you just want a cheap 'Reader's Edition' copy" still stands, even at $50 instead of $60. :)

Glenn said...

I hope we get Showcases for The Witching Hour and Weird War Tales. Any Showcases with more Kubert, Adams and Toth is good for everyone.

Austin Gorton said...

I spoke with John Ostrander about the Showcase Suicide holdup at Fallcon last year; apparently it boils down to a dissagreement between him and DC regarding the best format to reprint the book in, Showcase black-and-white or a series of color volumes, and any reprints of the material are held up until an agreement is reached.

(I felt it would have been presumptuous of me to ask for which version he was a proponent).